I was listening to the radio while sitting in traffic today and I heard a commentator on NPR engage in one of my more recent, thrombosis inducing pet peeves.
Maybe it’s the philosophy training or just that I generally think that words have specific meanings – even multiple meanings in some cases.
But it just drives me fucking nuts when some uses the word agnostic, when the context of their sentence clearly shows what they really mean is: undecided.
These two words are not interchangeable.
Agnostic means one believes that one can neither know, nor not know – to any degree of certainty – the answer to a particular question or proposition.
Undecided means one has just not made up one’s mind at the present moment. And that could be because of a lack of information, or a fear of being wrong, or whatever. Doesn’t matter.
Undecided indicates that one is still weighing the proposition in question, perhaps suspending judgment until new information comes to light.
Agnostic indicates that one has weighed all of the relevant information, and one has decided that the proposition in question can neither be known, nor conclusively not known.
I hope that has cleared the matter up a little.
Now I’m going to go lie down until the vein in my forehead returns to its usual dimensions.